Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Interesting Things and A Response

Nancy Pickard is saying interesting things about the beginnings of creativity over at her blog. She talks about sadness as a catalyst to write and I think that's true for a lot of people, but as with everything that can be said about writing it's not for everyone. Say for example, me. So I wanted to respond. I'll post what I said over there over expanded and edits a bit, because I think it's an interesting discussion and it demonstrates once again that there are a 1,001 ways to write a novel, every one of them right.

My response:

Interesting thesis. Doesn't follow my own path to writing at all, but I can see how it's one way to start down the road.

In my own case, I met a wonderful woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life (going on 18 years together now). I'd been in theater, but that's not really compatible with having a life, so I was looking for a new artistic outlet. Shortly after she moved in with me, I got a computer. I had time and artistic drive and I was as happy as I'd ever been in my life, so I wrote a book. It didn't sell, but that didn't deter me and I wrote two more.

They didn't sell either. So, more than a little bit bummed, I took a break from novels for short stories. I learned a lot and started selling shorts. My confidence and the writing part of my happiness returned (the spousal part never having gone anywhere at all) and I wrote WebMage, which went on to be released by Penguin's Ace division.

But the sales process took six years and shortly before it sold I was again pretty bummed and unhappy about writing. I was at the lowest production ebb of my writing life. Then the book sold and I started to come out of the down period and, since I was happy, to write a lot again. I've now written four novels in 24 months, including the best work of my life.

I write when I'm unhappy too, but I write better and much faster when I'm happy.

4 comments:

MariAdkins said...

I don't think I could have written Midnight and gotten the emotion and underlying elements across as well as I did had I not been coming out of a deep depression at the time. Too, it helped that I'd been in the places (well, except the vampire bits, of course) my main character had been - I just got to write about them through her eyes.

Sean M. Murphy said...

I write when I am happy, and significantly less so when I'm feeling down. I know that reaching those downs lets me know them and therefore write them better, but I have to be up again to have the drive to write at all, nevermind about the down times.

lydamorehouse said...

I totally agree. I can't write when I'm sad.

Douglas Hulick said...

I tend to be more down when I am not writing. Hence, if I am being productive, it kind of maintains itself. However, if I hit an unexpected period of enforced non-writing time (like now, with the whole house but me sick for a week), I have a harder time getting back into the groove because I am mad/down about being out of the groove.